Innovative treatments for rectal cancer

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

By DeeDee Stiepan

Mayo Clinic has been taking care of patients with rectal cancer for more than 100 years, dating back to the Mayo brothers. Even at that time, doctors were innovative with their approach to the care of patients with rectal cancer. That continues today as Mayo Clinic offers the latest in minimally invasive surgery.

Eric Dozois, M.D., a Mayo Clinic colon and rectal surgeon, explains some of the surgical treatment options being offered.

Watch: Dr. Eric Dozois discusses innovative treatments for rectal cancer.

Latest minimally invasive techniques

"We're using laparoscopic and robotic platforms to offer patients surgery that is the most up to date in terms of minimally invasive techniques," says Dr. Dozois.

These techniques ensure the least amount of trauma to the patient, while still achieving the goals of surgery which is to remove the cancer.

"What we've shown in our research is that these minimally invasive approaches have decreased complications from surgery. It shortens the length of stay and even reduces the cost of care," says Dr. Dozois.

A multidisciplinary approach

Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center's approach to rectal cancer care is multidisciplinary.

"Every single patient that we take care of with rectal cancer is discussed by a group of physicians and surgeons — medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and colorectal surgeons — because the care of these patients may involve each of those different treatment modalities," says Dr. Dozois.

The care teams can offer individualized care to meet the needs of each patient.

"That's really enhanced the care of patients with rectal cancer, because everybody brings their individual expertise to the discussion. We're all there together. And we can have a good conversation and really tailor what's best for the patient on all those different aspects," he says.

Illustration of rectal cancer.

Putting the needs of the patient first

When patients come in for rectal cancer treatment, Dr. Dozois says one of the main concerns patients have is ending up with a colostomy bag on the outside of their abdomen.

"Fortunately, we've been able to really develop strategies and approaches through radiation therapy and medical therapy as well as surgery to not only improve their survival, but also to avoid having to have this colostomy bag on the outside," says Dr. Dozois.

He says listening to a patient's concerns and understanding a patient's perspective is an important part of cancer treatment.

"We have a lot of treatment that we can offer. But there are side effects of treatment, there are complications. And so it's really important to have a shared decision-making approach with the patient when it comes to the care of their cancer," says Dr. Dozois.

Learn more

Learn more about rectal cancer and find a rectal cancer clinical trial at Mayo Clinic.

Join the Colorectal Cancer Support Group on Mayo Clinic Connect.

Also, read this article: "Answers to 4 questions about colorectal cancer treatment and survivorship."

A version of this article was originally published on the Mayo Clinic News Network.